The latest issue of Beatdom is on sale now! Grab your copy here.
We’ve already posted a list of the contents, but here’s a more detailed overview of what you can expect in this issue.
Homo Sap, the Ugly Animal
Ghost of Chance is one of William S. Burroughs’ lesser-known works, yet it is undoubtedly his clearest statement on ecological matters. In this essay, David S. Wills picks it apart and explores how Burroughs used an array of idiosyncratic methods for explaining and attacking “the ancient betrayal” that is Homo sapiens’ war on other species, as well as the potential ramifications of our actions.
My Bohemian Fling is Over
In this fascinating excerpt from a forthcoming biography of Gregory Corso, Kurt Hemmer looks at a period in the poet’s life when he considered turning away from his Beat peers. It focuses on Corso’s connection to Randall Jarrell and how the poor behaviour of Ginsberg and Kerouac helped sour Jarrell’s views on Beat poetry, rather ironically pushing Corso back into the Beat realm. However, there was more to the Corso-Jarrell connection than fallouts with Corso’s bohemian friends, as Hemmer explains.
How Green Were His Values?
Ryan Mathews spoke with Soheyl Dahi, Ron Whitehead, Joanna McClure, Rex Weyler, and Gary Snyder in order to put together this lengthy and impeccably researched exploration of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his ecological interests. It is a wide-ranging essay that explores Ferlinghetti’s complex views via his life and work, whilst also touching upon the ecopoetics of his Beat contemporaries.
Turning Right on the Road
Rob Johnson, the author of The Lost Years of William S. Burroughs and Did Beatniks Kill John F. Kennedy?, explains how and why Jack Kerouac has become popular among neo-conservatives. It is an intelligent and provocative essay that centres on the National Review, a publication founded by William F. Buckley, who famously (or infamously) interviewed Kerouac a year prior to his death. Digging through the National Review archives, Johnson says that the journal’s “critics of Kerouac are accurate, knowledgeable, sympathetic, and a true and necessary supplement to what has been written by a largely liberal-minded group of Kerouac scholars.”
Jack Micheline: The Last Bohemian Poet
Gerald Nicosia recalls his old friend, poet and painter Jack Micheline, as he listens to a tape recording of Jack at home, ranting eloquently about the world. He goes back to their first meeting and then forward to Micheline’s death, but cannot escape the thought that “it’s almost impossible to separate Jack the man and Jack the poet.” It is personal, yet it is a concise and intelligent explanation of Micheline the man and the artist, explaining what made him so appealing in spite of his numerous shortcomings.
A Beat Out of Time
Bob Kaufman is one of the most fascinating figures of the Beat Generation, yet drastically understudied. We hope that this long and important study by Matz McLaughlin will help to remedy that. In addition to piercing the self-made mythology of Kaufman, McLaughlin also looks at the great poet’s ecological concerns, in-keeping with the theme of Beatdom #23. He draws upon various sources, including unpublished manuscripts by Kaufman’s poetic peers.
Keeper of the Sacred Scrolls
Beatdom regular Leon Horton interviews Beat bibliographer, Bill Morgan. They discuss Morgan’s impressive career as chronicler of the Beat Generation and dig into an array of Beat topics, from the death of David Kammerer to the importance of letters and archives. Allen Ginsberg features prominently, of course, both his brave and brilliant poetry and protest, as well as his less admirable sides, with the old NAMBLA issue discussed. It is a bold and important interview with one of the most important names in Beat studies. My favourite quote is: “I don’t believe that there ever was a ‘Beat Generation’ as a literary movement. No one writing style or theme exists that unites the work of Burroughs, Corso, Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, Snyder, McClure, etc. They were just friends brought together by Ginsberg.”
The Beats and an Ecological Awareness
In this essay, Peter Oehler examines whether or not the Beat Generation writers have received fair attribution for their contributions to ecological awareness. He talks about Deep Ecology and Shallow Ecology and studies the extant literature to determine the extent to which the likes of Kerouac and Snyder have been recognised for the impact of their most environmentally conscious writings.
A Derridian Exploration of Ginsberg’s Archives
The archives of the Beat writers are fascinating resources but in this essay Alexandre Ferrere looks at Allen Ginsberg’s archives into an even more interesting light. Using several theories proposed by Jacques Derrida, and several examples of Ginsberg’s poems, he examines letters and journals and explores the process of consciously and unconsciously creating, analysing the relationship between texts that are linguistically and thematically linked. (Due to the visual complexity of this piece, this essay will be posted online at the same moment the printed journal—a black-and-white publication—goes on sale.)
Nature and Its Redemption in the Pastoral Poems of Allen Ginsberg
Jonas Faust looks at four poems by Allen Ginsberg and examines the different ways that nature is incorporated. He writes: “Throughout the years and as Ginsberg’s awareness of the environmental crisis grew, his use of pastoral themes and his views on the environment as battle-stage for the future of both the human and the non-human world became more pessimistic and focused on apocalyptic rather than positive outlooks.”
The Epic Concatenation of William Buck
Bill Buck was no Beat writer, but he was privy to the burgeoning Beat scene in California in the mid-fifties. As an interesting figure on the fringes of the movement, whose contributions to the study of Eastern literature and philosophy are undeniable, he falls within what I would term the world of Beatdom, and in this essay, Tom Cantrell overviews his short and tragic life, which somehow – implausibly – resulted in the publication of two immensely important books.
To Catch a Moment in Time
Sixteen years after his first appearance in Beatdom, Neeli Cherkovski returns, interviewed this time by Leon Horton. They cover his childhood, his literary influences (Whitman, Blake, Pound, Ginsberg, and others), and—of course—Charles Bukowski. “I think Bukowski’s talent took a dive once he became a famous writer,” Cherkovski tells us. They go on to talk about Cherkovski’s work and his relationships with other writers, including Harold Norse, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Bob Kaufman, and the “annoying” Allen Ginsberg.
Kerouac and Family
Family was important to Jack Kerouac, as anyone with even a fleeting knowledge of his life can attest. In this transcription of a speech Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia gave in 2022, he goes beyond the basics (Memère, Gerard) and explains just how important family was. “[N]o scholar or critic can fully understand Jack Kerouac’s work without knowing fully his deep and rich—and yes, at times maybe even pathological—ties to family,” Nicosia writes. He also, perhaps unsurprisingly, talks about Kerouac’s daughter, Jan, and goes on to recount his efforts at meeting Kerouac’s living relatives as he worked on Memory Babe (which will be officially released on 1st June, 2023).
Lawrence on Lawrence
What connects Lawrence Ferlinghetti and D.H. Lawrence, aside from sharing a name and having both been connected to high-profile obscenity trials? As it turns out, there was much to connect the two writers. Ryan Mathews owns several of Ferlinghetti’s copies of D.H. Lawrences’ books and used the copious annotations to illustrate some of the connections between these two important literary figures.
The poems in this issue of Beatdom come from Neeli Cherkovski, Ron Meyers, and Wayne McCallum. Two of them look at the notion of ecological devastation resulting from humanity’s irresponsible actions.
In this issue, we have reviews of two interesting new Beat books: Stevan M. Weine’s Best Minds, which looks at Allen Ginsberg and the subject of madness, and The Beats and the Academy: A Renegotiation, which is a much-needed volume investigating the apparent contradictions in academic approaches to the Beat Generation. The latter examines the history of Beat Studies as a field and then looks at different examples of Beat writers moving into the academic realm.